Children entering Kindergarten are becoming aware of the social world around them while still developing basic inner capacities in their physical and emotional body. Their emotional and imaginative life is vivid and inseparable from their experience. They are resonant with their surroundings and naturally empathic, such that their feeling life binds their interior and exterior with little filter. Their connection to their family and caregivers is paramount, and the dominant method for learning is through model and imitation. Kindergarten children want to do the real work that see their parents and teachers do such as sweeping, cooking, building, and caring for their little ones.
At this age, children are immersed in "the moment" and their conception of time and space is simple and with limited scope. As their balance and coordination progress, and their understanding of rhythm and season deepen, the early sprouts of their intellectual growth take root. Cause and effect, multi-step processes, and abstract thinking will follow later. For now however, support of the young intellect is met through tangible engagement with real activities, from building castles and preparing food to observing the garden and sharing stories.
The kindergarten is designed to be a warm and inviting place. More like a home than a classroom, with a kitchen and work tables, play areas and garden. The environment is carefully woven to provide a sense of loving welcome, reverence for their community members and their surroundings. Toys and furniture are chosen to provide contact to natural materials and support the child's connection to the beauty and artistry of found and handmade objects.
Activities in Kindergarten parallel the home with children helping to prepare the morning meal, chopping vegetables for soup, stirring batter, and kneading dough for bread. Children set the tables and teachers and children sit down together for a hearty mid-morning snack.
In another area of the kindergarten is a large rug. Around it are well organized play areas with silks and dress ups, wooden swords, jewels, gnome capes and hats, wooden blocks and driftwood pieces, saw horses and colorful sheets that can be draped to create forts, houses, or worlds. Each morning during “free play” the room is humming with the busy work of the kindergarten, which is play.
Each day has its own rhythm of activities including circle time with imaginative games, songs, and movement, rest time, outside play, story, crafts, clean up time, watercolor painting, and beeswax modeling. Festivals, including birthdays, are celebrated throughout the year. The focus for Kindergarten is the development of strong social skills, emotional resilience, physical integration, and thoughtful exploration.
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